Dib sat on the back porch steps, sulking in his latest failure. The pain of humiliation and regret seemed to sink remarkably deeper this time then it ever had before. After Gaz had reluctantly rescued him from the monkey and the cage in the warehouse when her Dib-bot had broken, he'd stayed awake the whole night breaking down and analyzing Zim's latest plot- what Zim knew, what he had learned, how PEG could be secured better. At the end of that torturous night, the only conclusion he'd been able to come to was that Zim had used a robotic clone to trick him because the alien knew that Dib was so paranoid and emotionally scarred that the only person he could ever trust was… himself.
Dib sighed. He wasn't sure if his sorrow was more from this truth itself, or the fact that his mortal enemy was aware of it. He knew he was paranoid- it contributed to his astuteness and he usually saw it as a strength rather than a flaw. He'd just never expected to wind up trusting only his exact image- and even then he'd ended up trapped in a cage with a crazed monkey.
Awhile later, Professor Membrane went out to the back porch to find his son soaking in bitterness. "Something bothering you, son?" he asked, looking down from his intimidating height.
"No," mumbled Dib, turning away. The professor, unusually troubled by his only son's distress, sank down on his knees and placed a gloved hand on his shoulder- a rarity. Physical contact was minimal in the Membrane household.
"What's wrong?" he asked insistently, creaking slightly as he sat on the step beside Dib. The boy was shocked into silence. Membrane stared at him pensively, and then began talking. His voice sounded strangely weary, more human than it normally was. "When I was about Gaz's age, I skinned my knee while I was playing outside." Dib was amazed. His dad never talked about himself as a child. In fact, Dib and his sister both secretly assumed that he'd just manifested into existence as he was now, with no past life whatsoever. "I ran inside for help," Membrane continued. "My father was too busy writing his next sermon to help me. He told me where the bandages were and went back to work." The two sat in silence for a moment after the professor had finished his anecdote. Then, without another word, Professor Membrane stood and reentered the house, leaving Dib alone with his thoughts.
Dib stared at his small legs, wondering if he could trust them to hold his weight once he stood up.